Remember when you were a kid and needed a permission slip? It was like a golden ticket.  If Mom signed it, that meant the field trip to the pumpkin patch was in your sights. Way better to spend the day running through corn mazes than practicing multiplication.  Permission slips were a promise, a signed document, a binding contract that held our fate. As kids, we were at the mercy of our parents to sign it and our teachers to check us off the list.  Our responsibility was in the transportation. To make sure all parties were properly notified. And nothing was sweeter than the escape that a field trip promised.

 

 

Then we grew up.  And we become the permission granters.  To our kids and even to ourselves. Yet often times we forget we have that kind of power.  Especially power over our own lives.

 

 

 

For five years I was apart of this life-giving Mom group that met at our church.  It was truly food for my soul. I met some amazing friends there. Throughout the years, many speakers have come through the doors but one in particular really resonated with me.  The director of women’s ministry shared this incredibly powerful message about permission slips. She said that as women we carry the weight of many responsibilities. We run families, businesses and marathons.  And through the course of life we define ourselves in many different ways and bear the weight of those responsibilities. Those burdens can leave us exhausted, depleted, frustrated, depressed, the list goes on. But what if we gave ourselves permission to loosen the grip on our lives and let something go?  Or what if we gave ourselves permission to finally rest? Or add something wonderful that was like letting sunshine into a dark room? Then she asked us, what would you give yourself permission to do or not do?

 

That was a hard question to answer.  I felt like my plate was full and life was jam-packed with all the things this stage of life with young kids can bring.  Things like homework and sports and making lunches and dance and volunteering at school and storytime and laundry and washing dishes and and changing diapers and more laundry and dinner.  Oh, dinner…again. Things that make life go ‘round and yet the constant “on the go” was starting to really drag me down. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the tempo I had set for my life.  My sanity was on the brink most nights and I felt like I was losing my joy. I wasn’t a happy mom, wife or human. I was going through the motions but the light inside me was flickering at best.  

 

When I heard this talk…I was floored.  Tears welled up in my eyes as her story was my story.  I was crumbling under the weight of trying to live this polished life.  I’m not saying any of these things are bad. But in that snapshot of time, I couldn’t do any of it very well.  With a one year old under my feet (or scaling the kitchen counters) and two big kids who very much needed me, a husband who worked long hours and this perfectionist mentality relentlessly pushing me forward, I was left exhausted.  Completely worn out. And I was in need of asking the questions:

 

What is my permission slip? What do I need to give up? Or add? Where do I need to give myself permission to seek joy in this life?

 

Staring at the paper, I felt my shoulders tighten a little.  Felt my jaw tense up. This was hard. I wanted to do everything well.  I wanted to say “Yes!” I wanted to be the fun Mom with the best snacks and Pinterest worthy birthday parties.  I wanted to be in great there’s-no-way-you’ve-had-three-kids shape. I wanted to cook healthy meals every night.  I wanted to go on dates with my hubby to fun new places and have girls nights on the regular. I wanted a beautifully kept home.  But real life happens. Kids get sick. Husbands work late. A well intentioned healthy meal turns into frozen pizza after doing homework and shuttling two kids to and from soccer practices.  And the baby…destruction is her jam. I laugh at the word phase! We’ll see when she outgrows this one. She still really enjoys squeezing applesauce on the rug. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with those pouches!  The point is the unexpected, unintended life is often the life we live. It makes for those beautiful unexpected baby smiles when you lock eyes and wonder if it’s their first “real smile” or just gas. Either way the result is melting.  

 

So I had to let my perfectionism go.  It was a struggle. Like an arm wrestling match I so badly didn’t want to lose.  But in the end, my sanity had to win out. I had to take a step back and realize that life isn’t about creating beautiful moments it’s about celebrating the beauty that is already in front of me.  It’s about enjoying my kids and their shenanigans even if that means they don’t get to bed on time. Or we each grilled cheese, again. Or the clean laundry sits in the dryer one more day. Sorry, no budging on teeth brushing.  This one is non-negotiable.

 

I want to tell you it was easy.  That once I made the decision, everything just fell into place.  But that’s not the truth. The honest answer is that I still very much struggle.  I have to remind myself daily to be gentle because I’m not perfect. I know I’m doing the best I can and that is good enough.  I am allowed to prioritize, strategize, ask for help and rest (even binge watch some reality TV!) Because we all need a break. And that is not only OK, but it’s good for us.

 

I look at my now two year old who amazingly told me right before nap time today, “Me tired” and then proceeded to lay her sweet little blonde curls on her pillow.  Here’s to striving to being more like my toddler and listening to my own needs a little more closely. She even took a two hour nap and woke up so happy! My hope and prayer for you (and for me!) is to give ourselves permission to embrace whatever stage of life we are in, listen to our own needs a bit more closely and have the courage to cut out the things that stand in the way of our joy.  I’m still very much on my journey and would really love to hear about yours.

 

Where do you struggle? What do you need to give yourself a permission slip for?  How do you handle the stresses of life? Please share! I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

I remember being pregnant with my first daughter and being completely overwhelmed with the amount of baby stuff that is out there.  So I registered for everything. I had no idea. Wipe warmer? Yes! Now three kids later, I have found my favorite products and would love to share my insights with you.  Here is my list of the best baby products on the market.

So what do you really need?

 

Swaddles

Swaddles are AMAZING! I absolutely love that you can wrap your sweet little munchkin up without having to remember all the folds and crisscrossing of trying to turn a regular blanket into a swaddle.  I could never get it down.   I remember watching the nurse wrap up Hailey and thinking she must be a pro at origami.  I tried swaddling a few times after leaving the hospital, but my sleep deprived brain just couldn’t do it.  Then someone gave us the Swaddles and our lives changed.  Our fussy little peanut loved it! It was like magic!  The velcro made it to so easy to wrap her up.  She loved being swaddled tightly and this was the solution. 

 

 

Sleep sacks

For an older baby, sleep sacks are awesome.  It keeps them warm (they are wearing a blanket!) without having to use a blanket.  It is a really wonderful and safe option to keep your little one cozy at night.  All my kiddos loved their sleep sacks.  Paisley is a little over two years now and still sleeps in hers.

 

Nipple cream

For nursing mamas, this is a MUST!  I have literally tried them all.  I had a really hard time breastfeeding my oldest daughter and even had some pain with the other two.  Sensitive boobs, I guess! Anyways, I literally tried everything…and then I found this one by Medela.  It was the only one that really helped and provided protection.  The consistency was smooth and went on easily.  I found other creams were either too thick or really runny which made it difficult to put on.  This one was definitely my favorite.

 

 

Nipple Pads

I found these disposable nipple pads to work the best.  At first I tried the reusable ones mostly to be environmentally friendly and so I wouldn’t have to keep buying more.  But they just didn’t work.  For starters, I would leak right through them.  Nothing is more embarrassing than being at preschool drop off only to see a giant wet spot appearing–Ugh!  The other problem was they would sometimes stick if I forgot to put on nipple cream on and peeling them off an already sensitive nipple was soooo painful.  Lastly they would move and that would also lead to leaks.  Here’s what I love about the disposable ones.  They have a plastic backing, so it is much harder to leak through them.  And they have a little sticker on the back that you can adhere to your nursing bra so they don’t move.  Genius!  And because they aren’t cloth, they won’t stick to your nipple.  They were much gentler and overall a lot more comfortable.  They are one of my favorite gifts to give new mamas!

 

Pacifier

This one is a lifesaver.  From calming down your little one to helping them sleep, pacifiers are wonderful.  And when they get old enough, you can always take it away.  The “Paci Fairy” came to our house and took our pacifiers to give to other babies and left a doll in return.  If your little pumpkin will take a pacifier (my middle daughter absolutely refused and instead chose her thumb!) then I highly recommend this one by Nuc.  One thing I loved about it is that it has a hook on the back which allows you to attach a pacifier clip.  Which leads me to my next favorite thing…


 

Pacifier Clips

This one is such a time saver.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been driving only to have a screaming baby who can’t find her pacifier.  Or handed the baby to someone else and the baby has spit out her pacifier and then no one can find it.  That leads to screaming and more screaming.  But a pacifier clip is a game changer.  It is attached to them.  No more searching the floor or car seat.  And when they get older, they can pop it back into their own mouths.  I also love that by wearing it, it’s far less likely to hit the ground or something yucky.

 

Baby gowns

Talk about making life easier, baby gowns do just that.  Especially with a sweet little newborn who is in no mood to wait to get dressed.  There are always SO MANY SNAPS! And when your peanut is not having it then it seems like those snaps multiply.  The answer for us was a baby gown.  Once you get it over their tiny heads you are home free.  Diaper changes are so much easier and faster, which is good news for everyone.


 

Sound Machine

I can’t say enough about having a good sound machine.  Once you have a baby you start to notice all the noises that go on when your little peanut is trying to sleep.  It’s incredible.  When Hailey was born we lived in an apartment and I’m pretty sure the gardener knew when I was putting her down for a nap, because he would always crank up his leaf blower.  It never failed.  Yes, it’s good for your little one to get used to hearing noise, but nothing’s worse than the ring of a doorbell to startle them from sleep and ruin the afternoon for everyone.  I love this sound machine because of all the various sound options it has and it can be turned up pretty loudly.  This is especially helpful when my other girls are home!  The other good thing about a sound machine is it’s a great cue for your little one that it is time to rest.  They start to associate the sound of the machine with going to bed.  With all three of my girls, the sound machine really helped them understand the transition from awake-time to sleep time. 

 

Butt Paste

Once your little sweet pea is old enough for diaper cream (newborn skin is too sensitive) this one is my go-to.  The consistency isn’t too thick and it really does heal a diaper rash quickly.  A friend gave it to us as a joke with my first (the name is kinda ridiculous!) and it ended up being the one that worked the best. 


 

Pampers Diapers

I love, love, love diapers with a line! Why? Because the line starts out yellow and then changes to blue when your little munchkin needs to be changed.  This is super helpful when you have a newborn and your tired brain just can’t handle making one more decision: to change or not to change.  The line makes it very obvious!  A few times I’ve accidentally bought the kind without the lines and then kicked myself because it’s so much trickier to tell if they need to be changed, especially when they are newborns.  The line makes it so much easier!

 

Baby Carrier

Wear that baby and you get your hands back! I love to wear my babies.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  Your little one wants to be near you and you want your hands free.  I would go on walks, trips to the grocery store, mall, the park, etc.  The only thing you should never do is cook while wearing your baby, this is incredibly dangerous. 


 

Convertible Stroller

This stroller is definitely at the top of my best baby product list!  It is definitely worth its weight in gold.  Over the years I have told so many friends (and strangers at the park!) about the benefits of this stroller.  I wish we would have invested more in a better stroller with Hailey.  We started with a Graco and I just wasn’t happy with it.  The basket below was way too small and the wheels were plastic.  This led to uneven rides and it was almost impossible to get over curbs.  With every bump, I would worry that Hailey would wake up.  I would get so frustrated when eventually an uneven sidewalk would scare her and she would inevitably wake up.  Then we upgraded when Laila came along.  The Baby Jogger City Select was and still is a work horse.  The basket below is a great size and allows me to even shop with it.  The wheels are much bigger and made out of rubber.  I can go over curbs more easily and the ride is a lot smoother, which is a necessity when you have a sleeping baby. 

 

I also LOVE all the options this stroller has to offer.  It has a bassinet for baby and then converts for older kiddos.  It also has a separate attachment (sold separately) that allows you to attach your baby carseat.  I found this to be very helpful! I didn’t have to take a sleeping baby out of her carseat to put her in the stroller.  With one click, she was in and we were on our way.  If you have multiple kids, you can buy and attach a second seat.  I never bought it, but I have friends who have also purchased the skateboard attachment and have loved that too.  Another great feature is that the stroller is narrow enough to go through most doorways and is very easy to maneuver.  This stroller is definitely one of my favorite baby items.  It is definitely worth the hefty price tag.


 

What are you favorite products?  Would love to hear which products have made your mom-life easier!

 

This post contains affiliates. The opinions are 100% my own.

Thank you for your support!

Here we are again….it’s Soccer Season!  This year both big girls are playing which means lots of practices and lots games.  Once I got their schedules, I tackled the calendar with color coded highlighters to try and keep it all straight! Thankfully my father-in-law is coaching my oldest daughters team which means two less practices I have to be at a week.  Woohoo! Three cheers for Gramps!

 

Growing up, I never played soccer.  Justin, on the other hand, started playing from the time he could walk.  He even played all the way through college. Soccer was definitely his first love and it’s fun to see his “soccer-ness” come out on the field.  This year he’s assistant coaching both girls’ teams. He gets such a kick out of the fact that I still struggle with remembering which way the ball is supposed to go.  I’m more of a “I’ll make the cute hair ribbons” kinda mom.

 

Last year when Laila was five, she was on her first team called the Pink Unicorns.  All the girls were so adorable (and had the cutest hair bows!). It was so fun to watch them play and see their little friendships grow throughout the season.  From stealing the ball to scoring goals, it was pretty incredible to watch our Pink Unicorns do so well. Laila really took me by surprise with how much she loved the game.  She would come home and beg her older sister to play with her. She would dribble all over the house and practice shooting goals–at our front door!

 

One Saturday I was helping her put on her pink uniform and like usual,  I asked her if she was excited to play. She said “Yes!” and then she said she would be playing in “Beast Mode.”  I could feel my lips wanting to curl into a smile. But I held back because I could tell she was serious. I began mentally ticking off how many times I had mentioned the words, and couldn’t even think of one.  My only mention of the beast had been in reference to the Disney movie. But this tiny five year old had heard it somewhere and committed the words to memory. And sure enough, on the field her “beast mode” would appear with evidence of scoring, stealing and sprinting the whole game.  It was obvious that she had embraced the sentiment with her little heart.

 

So we adopted the phrase.  “Beast Mode” became our mantra for trying your hardest.  It became our code words for doing your best. A quick little pick-me-up during a tough game and a reminder of “I know you can do it!”   

 

And then there’s life.  Outside the white lines of a soccer field.  Where problems can feel bigger than any solution.  Where trying hard is sometimes met with disappointment and getting back up it the last thing anyone wants to do.  I can think of quite a few times in life where I’ve felt pushed down and really struggled with pulling myself back up.  Where not loving myself became a familiar pattern which only led to more destruction. But somewhere on my broken path, God (and a great therapist!) met me there.  With one baby step at a time, my heart and life started to transform. Now I barely recognize the girl I only remember in the rear-view mirror of my memory. She is like a dear friend that I once loved like a sister and then lost touch with, only to reunite years later and see that by the grace of God she is ok.  That she was stronger than her circumstances. That like Dorothy, she had the answers and the strength all along.

 

That is what Beast Mode means.  That inside of us we are all stronger and more capable than we think.  We can rise above, try our best and keep getting back up because we are worth fighting for.  I know I need that reminder on an almost daily basis. Life is unpredictable. Which is what makes living very beautiful, but it can also be incredibly difficult.

 

Having three girls and knowing someday I will have to let them go is terrifying.  That they will need to find their own ways and live their own lives in this big world.  I hope they always know in their hearts that they are strong and capable. They are loved.  They are worth fighting for. And if they forget, I’m happy to remind them of Laila’s wise words.

 

Where do you find strength? How do you teach your kids about doing their best?

 

 

 

This post contains affiliates.  All opinions are 100% my own.

One of my absolute favorite ways to help when someone is in need is to bring them a meal.  Food can be so healing not only for the body but for the soul.  When the world feels like it is crashing down, the last thing anyone wants to

think about is making dinner.  From surgery to a

major illness to the blessing of a new baby, getting food on the table is just plain hard.  

When our lives caved in five years ago due to Justin’s ruptured appendix, I experienced the grace and generosity of our community.  Friends, family and mamas I did not even know (they had heard from others what had happened to us) began to bring us food.  Mostly homemade, some store bought and all delivered with such kindness that our lives were literally sustained by the love  of others. 

When my third little lady was born in 2016, we again were blessed with beautiful meals ranging from baked pasta to chicken enchiladas. One of my favorites was from a dear friend who brought over “breakfast for dinner!” What a delicious idea!  My kids especially loved it.

Meals have become my mission in bringing a little kindness to someone else in need.  It is something I can do, even with three little kiddos underneath my feet.  Over the years, I have tried to pay it forward because I know first hand what a difference a meal can make.  Partnered with an easy salad and some yummy chocolate chip cookies (those are our favorites!) it can make for a delicious dinner.  I usually double my recipes and feed my fam too. 

One of my favorite recipes that feeds a crowd is Taco Soup.  Please check out my version of this  yummy meal.

What are your favorite recipes to share? How do you take care of the people in your life? Can’t wait to hear from you!

 

It’s incredible to me how a baby has no fear. They will climb on top of a table and happily attempt to jump off with full trust that someone will catch them. How they will run towards the street just because it’s fun to go fast. With total enthusiasm, they will find the tallest slide at the park and shoot right down it. The joy is palpable and results in many more trips up and down. Any trace of fear was crushed with the discovery is such fun.

And then we grow up and the fear grows. And it can stop us in our tracks. Keep us in a prison of our own making. Fear can ruin us. I love the quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt that says, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He spoke this to the American people during his campaign in the 1932 Presidential election. I think it could not be more true today. Fear can drive us or it can stagnate us. Push us forward or hold us back. I have seen many friends be driven to success and I have seen others be absolutely paralyzed.

Starting this blog has forced me to face my fear. The fear of no one reading or maybe worse, hating my writing. The fear of not having the time to do my best while juggling three kids and my sweet husband. The fear of comments or lack thereof, the fear of trying but still failing. The fear of jumping off the proverbial bed and not having any arms to catch me.

But then I think of what I tell my kids. If you tried your best, than you have already found success. Ok, I didn’t mean for that to rhyme or sound cliched…but it is true. Sometimes things in life don’t turn out the way we plan. Actually most of life is out of our control. But what we can control is our effort and attitude. So on this Monday, that is my little love note to myself and to you. Your effort matters, your attitude matters and most importantly of all…YOU matter. What you give the world no one else can. Wishing you a beautiful Monday!

What is your greatest fear? How do you conquer it? What do you tell your kids about facing their fears? I would love to hear from you!

There is absolutely nothing better than a cold glass of ice tea on a sunny afternoon. It’s been warmer lately and we even had a few days that hinted of summer. Sipping ice tea is one of my favorite ways to have a little break and it’s even sweeter when the baby is napping. Over the years I have really tried to understand the meaning of rest and taking a minute for myself. I’ve always had a hard time with that. It felt like my brain wouldn’t shut off and I just couldn’t sit still. Like an indulgence I did not deserve.

I’ve since learned that the nagging voice is driven by anxiety. When left unattended that voice can be incredibly destructive to myself and those around me. Justin reminds me of how in college I could not sit even to watch a movie. I always had to be pushing forward, studying harder, researching more. What I had already done wasn’t good enough which in turn translated to I wasn’t good enough. Woah. That is a crushing weight. And one that I did not deal with well.

Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about…something with an uncertain outcome.” Which is pretty much what life is: one uncertain outcome after another. Towards the end of college, that inner voice had become so loud that I knew I needed to find answers. I met with a beautiful woman who counseled and mentored me. She told me not to let the “internal inferno” dominate my thoughts. That my thoughts were just that…thoughts. And they could be replaced. Through her support, I learned how to change the way I think. To step back and really look at a situation instead of falling into my old pattern of knee jerk reactions. And to love myself. Just because God made me, I am worthy. And so are you. God does not make accidents or mess up. He makes beauty and we are His treasures.

I’ll be honest. I still struggle. I have doubts and fears and beat myself up. Sometimes the words in my head are loud, reckless and relentless. But things that I love help. Like exercising, hanging with my hubby and kids (NOT doing chores!) and even that simple glass of ice tea. Life is uncertain and that can feeling of being out of control is very real. But there is beauty in needing one another. When we reach out and truly listen to our friends, husbands, kids, etc we give the gift of our hearts. And there is nothing better than when someone offers their soul back to us. We are changed because of those deeper connections. In my opinion, there are too many walls. Walls that guard our hearts, expectations, finances and our words. Walls that I have built in defense of being hurt. But love can break down walls. Real soul-level friendships are the best wrecking ball I know of. 15 years ago my husband was the OG wrecking ball. Taking a sledge hammer to all my stuff, he helped me find myself. I’m so grateful for his tenacity–I was not an easy one to crack.

Letting people in is scary. Hands down. It forces vulnerability and requires trust. But the rewards are so sweet and life-giving. So that is my goal heading into spring and warmer weather. To pour two glasses of ice tea and invite over a friend. To let our kiddos run wild in the backyard and share laughs over how hard it is to complete a thought let alone a sentence without someone yelling “Mom!” To let the lazy afternoon hours slip by and maybe, just maybe dinner will make itself.

 

When I was pregnant with my third daughter I gained the most weight of all three pregnancies. At the time we were remodeling our house and between feeling nauseous all the time…morning sickness that lasted all day!…and having people working at the house I felt like I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I did with the first two pregnancies. Disclaimer: I can’t say I really exercised when I was pregnant with Laila (baby #2) it was more I was just so busy chasing Hailey around. Literally chasing. She was a runner!

So fast forward to my third baby being about 1 years old and really feeling like I needed to make a change to get healthier and to feel better in my own skin. While I was nursing I felt like I was eating non-stop and chocolate was always my afternoon pick-me-up. When Paisley stopped nursing at 12 months, it was hard to stop the eating train. It was comfort sometimes more so than anything else. But I wasn’t happy about my body and finally came to conclusion that I needed to make some changes.

I had tried spin classes in the past but it had been a long time and I was incredibly intimidated. The truth was I knew it was the fastest way for me to burn calories. I do enjoy the eliptical machine but would never push myself as hard as a spin class. Here’s the irony…My husband is a personal trainer! Although he would try to squeeze me in occasionally to train, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. After much of his encouragement, off to spin class I went. And I thought I was going to die. Muscles I forgot that I had hurt and I couldn’t sit down without being sore for a week. It was pretty ridiculous! But back I would go. And sore I would be. And over time it got better. I began to look forward to the burn in my legs because I knew they were working. My breathing got better and the weight started to come off. I added in some weight lifting and it just felt so good to be getting stronger. I really noticed it when the stroller felt lighter and easier to get out of the trunk of the car.

On days when making it to the gym doesn’t happen (having three kids–anything can happen!) I have been trying to take walks with the baby in the stroller. I also try to give myself 20-30 minutes or so and use bands to do some strength training a few days a week.

The other thing I had to change was my eating. I love…I mean LOVE sweets. Chocolate especially is my weakness. Cutting it out was so hard but that’s the kind of “all or nothing” person that I am. It’s tricky for me to regulate myself and I knew I just needed to cut it out and take away the temptation. So Justin and I cut out sugar, carbs and most dairy for about a month. We basically followed a paleo plan. It was SO hard! I’m not gonna lie. I missed sugar and bread….oh and cheese. Especially a delicious brie on crusty french bread! So we cut it out and almost instantly the weight came off. I found myself having way more energy and almost…almost enjoyed the challenge of cooking carb free. Which leads me to my new favorite thing: sweet potatoes.

They are a superhero food. They have tons of vitamins and are a great source of fiber. But what I love most about them is that they are incredibly versatile. They easily replace carbs and can be topped with almost anything. At first, one of the challenges I faced was how do I cook for my family and yet still stick to a paleo plan. With kids after-school activities, homework, playdates and a baby who loves to climb, my cooking window is pretty small. Meals have to be made fast. That’s when sweet potatoes became my new best friend. If I made pasta and meat sauce for the family I would then put the sauce on a sweet potato and skip the pasta. Same thing with Chile Verde, BBQ chicken, and sloppy joes. All of which I make in the crock-pot. Just switching out the carb for the sweet potato made a huge difference in my weight-loss journey while at the same time I did not have to make two separate meals. Win-win!

For me, being on that super restrictive diet for longer than a month was just too hard. I missed chocolate! So now I’m trying to live 70-80% paleo/20-30% non-paleo. Through the process, I’ve lost 40 lbs and have managed to keep it off. Some days are definitely easier than others. And when I do decide to indulge, I try not to beat myself up about it (more about that later!)…instead I just try to make better choices the next day. Life is too short to spend any time worrying about the piece of cake I ate yesterday.

What has your journey been like? What are healthy/weight-loss tricks you love? Please share, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Both of my older girls are playing softball this year. Last year we got really lucky and they were on the same team (definitely one of the benefits of having kids so close together!). This year, however, they are in different divisions and now on different teams. That means so many practices and SO MANY GAMES. And trying to juggle practices and games plus a wild toddler who is not interested in sitting let alone watching is a little bit like trying to paddle a boat with a popsicle stick…it just doesn’t work. Thankfully my in laws have been major players in the balancing act of sports. I am so grateful for the days they are able to help.

This year my father-in-law agreed to help me coach and Justin helps at the games on the weekend. What an adventure that has been! I never played sports. The closest I ever got was playing after-school basketball in elementary school where everyone wanted me on their team because I was the tallest kid in the class. My bulb quickly burned out when other kids (with actual skills!) caught up in height. Ha!

So now here I am coaching…guys, I’m COACHING!…at least it’s t-ball for 4-6 year olds. For about half the team, it’s their first time playing. So I’m learning right there with them. There’s a lot more to it than I imagined. Emails, meetings, and of course ordering sparkly purple headbands (our team is the Sparkling Diamonds!). I will say at 3 months in and with only 1 game left, I’ve certainly learned a lot. But the greatest thing I have learned is that it matters to my kid that I am there. The “a-ha moment” came one day after practice. I asked Laila (my middle daughter) if she had fun at practice that day and she said, “Yes. Softball is my favorite sport because you’re my coach, Mommy.” And then I melted. My insides felt like glitter and sparkles and rainbows. It was the best compliment I could have gotten and nothing is more sincere or real than what a five year old has to say. Honesty is her policy…no matter what might come out.

So it was worth it. It mattered to her that I was there. And trying. (Yeah, she knows I can’t throw a ball and luckily my husband pitches during the games otherwise I would probably hit every one of our girls!) Having three kids, I always feel guilty that I don’t seem to have enough time or patience to give each one. Often times I feel so caught up in all the daily chores that it’s easy to forget to take time for that extra hug or reading Pinkalicious for the 100th time. But it matters to them. So that is what I’m working on. Trying to say yes to the things that really matter most to them…like coaching and hugs and playing tag in the backyard and not worrying so much about the crumbs on the floor.

What kinds of things do you do to make your kiddos feel special? Activities? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! Thanks for sharing!

 

 

P5

It’s still hard for me to believe we have TWO kids in elementary school. I feel like it was just yesterday that my older girls were still in diapers (they are 23 months apart). And at the time, those baby days definitely felt like they were never going to end! Now my oldest is almost 8 and in 2nd grade and my middle daughter just turned 6 and is in kindergarten. Wow time flies! Or should I say the days go slow (sometimes REALLY slowly!) and the years go fast!

When our oldest was in preschool Justin and I would ask her how her day was and she would always have lots to say. We would get a full update on bike riding, painting and what she ate for snack. Then along came our second daughter and when the same question rolled around after a day at preschool, she would tell us…well, pretty much nothing. I tried to pry out answers, but for the most part she would reply “good, fine” and that would be that. Off she would run away, happily on to the next adventure of the day.

So that’s when we started asking, “What was your rose and what was your thorn today?”

The rose was the high point, the best part of the day. The thorn was the tough, difficult, maybe disappointing part of the day. And that’s when my middle daughter started talking. Suddenly I began to learn about which art projects she enjoyed doing, a favorite book that was read and that she had a passion for riding bikes. As time went on she also shared her thorns. The following school year, she told me her thorn was that another child that was hitting her. Because of her speaking up we were able to handle a difficult situation and ultimately keep her safe.

I am a big believer in talking about roses and thorns. Often times the girls will say they have several roses and its so wonderful to learn about their world through their eyes. Usually the best time for us to chat is in the car right after school, when everything is still fresh in their minds. Or I try to talk to them at the dinner table…when the baby is busy eating and we actually get a moment to talk without a wild toddler running through the house.

The roses are so fun to hear. From making a new friend or getting to play a favorite game at P.E. And to hear their joy. Simply the best. Then there’s the flipside with the thorns. I’ve learned about girl drama (why does it start so young?!) and as a result been able to have great brainstorming sessions with them about how to resolve conflict. Growing up can be so hard and even harder when we don’t know what’s going on. I know we have many years ahead of us. I just hope and pray that our girls will keep talking to us and sharing their little hearts.

What are your tricks for getting kids to talk? To share about their days and their lives? I’d love to hear from you!